With an increase in incomes and wages, rural communities have more purchasing power today than ever before.
For the discerning marketer, developing marketing strategies for this population is essential.
Here is a look at the importance of rural marketing and some powerful rural marketing strategies you can employ.
Features of Rural Marketing
When it comes to marketing, there is no one size fits all strategy. Each cluster of markets come with their own characteristics.
As such, what works in urban markets might fail miserably in rural markets.
Some of the challenges of rural markets include:
- Unreliable communication and transportation systems
- Lower levels of literacy
- Lack of proper distribution channels for rural products
- The absence of partners to support market research and strategies
- Consumers being scattered over a large geographical area
Despite this, it is possible to explore and unlock the largely untapped rural markets. Here are some marketing strategies to get you started.
1. Choose the Right Communication Channel
For a business, effective communication ensures you reach your targeted audience. Direct mail, influencers, and social media can be effective communication tools for rural populations.
While the 21st century is not big on snail mail, it is perfect for certain markets. Direct mail response stands at 5.1%, compared to 0.6% for email.
This is evidence enough that mail can still be an effective marketing tool.
The printing and mailing charged can be restrictive, but there are still creative ways to reach your clients without overspending.
Here are a few ideas:
- Have handwritten notes to a few select clients. This can differentiate you from the others and draw attention to your business.
- Use email for communication, but personalize the emails to give them a personal feel.
- Partner with complementary businesses to pass around each other’s marketing materials.
Social media humanizes your business better than most marketing tools. It is also a less rigid platform that allows you to engage in one-on-one with your audience.
The key thing about social media is interaction. Therefore, ensure you are responsive.
Similarly, ensure that the information and feel of your social media platforms align with those of all other communication methods from your business.
It is also important to steer clear of highly emotive topics such as religion, politics, sexual orientation or some court cases.
If you have an ongoing lawsuit and forced to comment about it, this firm can advise you on what to say or do.
Micro-influencers For Rural Marketing
A micro influencer is someone who is known within a particular demographic. In addition to this, they are people with some degree of authority and credibility.
Because of this, micro influencers are very effective in rural communities.
Micro influencers do not have large followings like macro influencers. For this reason, they are able to engage more personally to their audiences.
This forms a more genuine interaction.
Some of the key outcomes of using influencers include increased brand awareness, improving sales conversions and reaching new audiences.
For a rural setting micro influencers can be business people, clergy, teachers, health professionals and so on.
2. Carry Out Event Marketing
Participating in tradeshows, industries, and conferences is a great way to network and market your business.
Depending on how big and publicized the events are, you can reach huge numbers at a go.
In rural areas, it is not as easy to land crowds as it is in an urban setting.
However, some creativity can still get you an audience. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Use technology to allow you to participate virtually. You can make a speech or a presentation via video conferencing tools.
- You can arrange webinars which are substituted for face to face gatherings.
- You can pool funds with other businesses and jointly host an attention-worthy, well-publicized event. You can do this by sending press releases to your local media.
If the terrain allows, a roadshow can give you an opportunity to improve brand visibility and awareness.
3. Have a Killer Website
Whether local or global, the internet is a rich marketing tool. Develop an optimized, interactive website with enjoyable content.
To have a winning website, keep the following in mind:
- The website should showcase you as an authority in your niche.
- Work on your SEO optimization so that you are easier to find.
- As more and more users are accessing the internet over their phones. Ensure that your site is mobile friendly
- Clearly show how your business can solve a problem.
- Aside from a great website, work on improving your local ranking on Google.
- While billboards may not be cost effective in rural markets, online videos work just as well.
4. Work On A Reward System
Reward systems can land you new clients and can help you retain your old ones.
Here is how to go about:
- Formulate a simple reward system that is easy to compute
- Make it easy for people to redeem their points. Without this, they will not use the cards or tokens and might forget about your business altogether.
- Have a referral system where you reward customers who refer others to your business.
Research has shown that people trust their friend and kin five times more than they trust direct brand messages.
You can use this to your advantage. Create a system where you reward customers for any business they bring you. Again, have a simple system to do this.
For example, you can give a 5% discount to any client who sends business your way.
Despite the challenges, good marketing strategies can give you a good return on these under-exploited markets.
Another key aspect of marketing is establishing an emotional connection. This is a human need across the board.
There are several ways to do this. For example, you can highlight your efforts towards creating employment and opening up a rural area.
Similarly, you can partner up with local initiatives and offer your resources. These could be a local safe house, a children’s group home, a food bank and so on.
Another winner is the environment and waste management. This directly affects each resident.
Efforts directed towards this direction will portray you as a caring and nurturing.
Take The Plunge
With good rural marketing strategies, you can penetrate markets that are largely unexploited giving you an edge over your competition.
Whichever strategies you employ, SEO is just as relevant in rural marketing as it is in other markets. Click here for more insights into why your rural business needs SEO.